SI

Joe Tessitore, Jason Witten and Booger McFarland will call the NFL Game of the Year.

By Jimmy Traina
November 19, 2018

1. It's the biggest and most anticipated game of the NFL season: Chiefs (9-1) at Rams (9-1) on Monday night on ESPN.

The focus won't just be on the field to see how the matchup of two juggernaut offenses plays out. It will also be a huge test for ESPN's new Monday Night Football booth of Joe Tessitore, Jason Witten and Booger McFarland. 

Reviews for Witten during his first season as an analyst have been rough. Viewers have cut him no slack and Witten himself has admitted to having a rocky year.

"Yeah, there have been some flubs," he said on a conference call last week. "I've made mistakes. You try to own it. You embrace it. Hell, I'm not perfect. I've certainly had my fair share of mistakes on live television. More than anything else, you try to embrace it. You laugh at it. You smile at it,"

That attitude is fine, but viewers tuning in for the Game of the Year are not going to be tolerant of flubs and mistakes. 

The most important issue for tonight's game won't be the booth, though. It will be how much ESPN wants to make itself part of the game. The network knows it's going to get the biggest Monday Night Football rating of the season. Will this make them try to show us how spectacular they are at covering football and jam a slew of bells and whistles down our throats? Will they force the Booger McFarland crane gimmick more than usual? Will Witten and McFarland talk non-stop because the game is so important?

Hopefully the answers to all these questions is "no." If ESPN decides to do these things, though, they will get more criticism than ever before and it will be more vocal than ever before. 

My unsoliticed advice to ESPN: Think of the fans and please just show the game. It will be more than enough to keep viewers satisfied.

2. The Cardinals lost to the Raiders, but quarterback Josh Rosen still managed to have the Quote of the Day.

3. How quickly they forget! Blake Griffin has been gone from the Clippers for a little while, but already people, including his former teammate Patrick Beverley, are snubbing his contributions to the franchise.

We point this out because we love the move by Chandler Parsons to interject himself and tattle to Griffin.

4. Heat guard Josh Richardson got ejected from Sunday's game against the Lakers for throwing a shoe into the stands. 

Honestly, who throws a show?

5. Mike Francesa reacted to the Condelezza Rice fake news just about how you'd expect. Especially amusing was Francesa using the analogy of Donald Trump making Nick Saban Secretary of Defense, totally ignoring the fact that Trump has filled senior administration positions with people who have just as much political experience as Saban, starting with Jared and Ivanka.

6. I don't want to be a Debbie Downer, but everyone calling what took place on Saturday Night Live this weekend a "mini Office reunion" should calm down. Yes, Pam is legit, but you need more than Erin and Andy, who were not part of the original cast, to call this a "mini reunion." We did love Jenna Fischer's line to Steve Carell, though.

7. Love this kid.

8. By a very rough count, it looks like The Rock enjoyed 124 pieces of sushi last night.

9. The newest SI Media Podcast features an interview with Ian Eagle of CBS Sports/Turner Sports. The versatile broadcaster talks about whether doing Nets games for 25 years has taken a toll on him, weighs in on the recent report that TNT might be forcing out Marv Albert as its lead NBA voice, shares a few hilarious Bill Raftery stories, reminisces about his days working for Mike and the Mad Dog, offers advice to young broadcasters, reveals a couple of opportunities he had with the Howard Stern Show and explains why he's never had a salad in his entire life. You can listen to the podcast below or download it on iTunes.

10. RANDOM YOUTUBE VIDEO OF THE DAY: One of, if not the best moment of Monday Night Raw post-Attitude Era came in 2013 when the crowd took over the show to profess its love of Daniel Bryan.

Traina Thoughts is the best of the Internet, plus musings by SI.com writer, Jimmy Traina. Get the link to a new Traina's Thoughts each day by following on Twitter and liking on Facebook. Catch up on previous editions of Traina Thoughts right here.And make sure to listen to and subscribe to the SI Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina.

IN CLOSING: I'm betting the over 63 in Monday's Rams-Chiefs game.

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
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Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
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